Seeds of Revolution

France and England had a series of wars for possession of North American during the period 1689-1763. The decisive struggle in North America, however, was the French and Indian War during the period 1754-1763. The Peace of Paris in 1763 gave Great Britain victory in North America.


A subordinate attitude in Saint Johns Parish toward British colonial authorities in Georgia was heightened when Lyman Hall, a physician and outspoken critic of the authorities, mi­grated with his second wife from Connecticut to Saint Johns Parish. Hall purchased land just north of the Meeting House and established a home and plantation he called Halls Knoll in 1769-1770. His wife was a descendent of the Puritans who established Windsor, Connecticut, in 1635, and both imme­diately became members of the Meeting House. He established a medical practice in Sunbury and both of them became active in political and social circles there and in Savannah.


Georgia colonial authorities and the Church of England made determined efforts to establish a church of that de­nomination in Saint Johns Parish during this period of time. Their efforts came to nothing.


The British Parliament from 1764 to 1767 enacted tax laws which directly affected Saint Johns Parish. The Sugar Act of 1764 raised revenues by reducing the molasses duty from the West Indies and increased duties on refined sugar as well as other imported luxuries. The Stamp Act of 1765 required that stamps be bought and placed on many items. The Quartering Act of 1765 required the American colonists to furnish British troops with barracks. The Townshend Act of 1767 placed duties on a good many items such as lead, paints, glass, paper and tea imported by the American colonists.


Colonial reaction to these laws was in the form of an English boycott, riots, and strongly anti-English literature. The taxes, except that on tea, were repealed by the British Parliament in 1770. But the seeds of hatred of the English and revolution had been planted in all of the thirteen Ameri­can colonies.


Reports were received in Saint Johns Parish in May 1770 that several traders had been killed by Creek Indians in frontier regions of Georgia, which in those days were not very far from coastal Georgia. There was fear in Saint Johns Parish that Creek Indians along the coast would join their brothers in the attacks. This so aroused some of the residents of Saint Johns Parish that they left for places they felt were more secure and some of them never returned to the parish.


Saint Johns Parish, during those days just before the deci­sive summer of 1775, was in a state of indecision about rebellion against the English. Residents of the parish were well aware that the military posture of the colony left much to be desired. Population of the colony at that time was about 17,000 whites and 15,000 slaves. The colonial militia num­bered about 3,000. There were disturbing rumors that the English planned to arm the slaves and turn them against the colonists should they seek independence of England.